Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.
Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.
But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.
Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.
Review: 5 Stars
This book was absolutely amazing. I just can’t believe that it took me so long to finally read it. I got a review copy, but I didn’t read it prior to publication because I expected it to disappoint me. Lately I’ve been disappointed by most new YA fantasy books. Recently I was looking for a book to read and I really wanted to read a fantasy that focused on classism. I remembered that I had a copy of The Midnight Lie and since I really loved The Winner’s Curse I thought I would give it a chance even though I’ve started to feel that I’ve been growing away from YA fantasy as a reader. Well, maybe I’ve just been reading the wrong books because The Midnight Lie reminded me why I love YA fantasy.
There are so many incredible elements that made this book truly amazing, but my favorite aspect is definitely the characters and their relationships with one another. Nirrim’s growth throughout this story was so authentic and powerful to read. In the beginning she is a girl who has suffered through years of emotional abuse and manipulation and by the end her eyes become opened to the horrible truths around her. The depictions of emotional abuse and manipulation are so spot on and feel so real. There is gaslighting, shifting blame, belittling and emotional blackmail among many other abuse tactics that are all directed at Nirrim and as a result she has low self esteem and will do anything to please her abusers. Nirrim worries about pleasing others so much that she is in a relationship with a man even though she is attracted to women. Her slow growth from being an obedient, meek girl into someone who stands up for herself and chases her own desires is such an important narrative to have represented in YA fantasy for abuse survivors.
I also loved Nirrim’s romance with Sid. The romance was so flirty and both characters were so full of spunk that I found myself smiling when reading their banter. Their slow burn romance is fun, yet it doesn’t take over the plot. Sid isn’t a cookie cutter romantic interest either, she is impulsive, confident and really brings out the best in Nirrim on their adventures. Sid is a character that is shrouded in mystery, so as a reader you can’t help but be intrigued by her and want to know more about her. It’s easy to see why Nirrim and Sid are attracted to each other and the attraction between them is electrifying.
I can’t talk about this book without mentioning the world building and the caste system. The Half-Kith live in a world devoid of all pleasures and the chapters that take place inside the wall feel like watching a movie in black and white. In contrast the world of the High Kith is in vibrant color and so full of magic and excess. The caste system is incredibly unfair and you really get a sense of the difference in the lives of the Half-Kith, Middling and High Kith throughout Nirrim and Sid’s adventures. Not only has Marie Rutkoski created an incredibly vivid world full of magic, but she provides history for that world slowly throughout the story, never dumping too much information at once. It’s an incredibly rich and vivid world that was so easy to visualize and a magical experience to read.
I can’t believe that I didn’t read this one sooner because it truly was so amazing. The characters were so authentic and the unhealthy relationships depicted in this story were done in a way that felt extremely real. I think this is an incredibly important narrative that I haven’t seen yet in YA fantasy. The romance was incredibly fun to read and the world was wonderfully magical and vivid. I can’t believe I’ve had a copy of this book all this time and I just picked it up. If you haven’t read this yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up now. The Midnight Lie is totally worth the read, I just wish I picked it up sooner.